The Royal Bank of Scotland’s (RBS) announcement that its Tranent branch, the last bank in the town, will close in July is a significant blow for local customers, businesses, community groups and the high street.
If this branch goes it will leave the whole of the Tranent/Wallyford/Macmerry and Preston/Seton/Gosford wards without a single bank branch between them.
I do not believe that the reasons given for closing the branch stack up. I was the Chair of Prestonpans Community Council when the RBS closed its branch there in 2016. At that time RBS used the proximity of the Tranent and Musselburgh branches as part of its rationale for closure.
Now the bank is claiming that the number of people using the Tranent branch has fallen significantly. However, the figures it cites are from the pandemic, when the number of people physically accessing the branch was bound to be lower than normal.
Unfortunately, despite the widespread anger at the proposed closure, which has seen hundreds of people sign my petition opposing it, the decision remains a commercial one for RBS alone.
However, the strength of feeling expressed on the closure highlights the importance of retaining access to cash and banking services in Tranent and Prestonpans, as well as surrounding villages. Therefore, I will continue working with local communities and colleagues to explore all options for keeping banking services in these areas.
In the meantime, if you oppose the closure of the Tranent branch, please sign my petition at tinyurl.com/2p9u5pt3.
Elsewhere, the dramatic events in Scottish politics continued last week with the intensification of Police Scotland’s investigation into the Scottish National Party’s finances.
Whatever the eventual outcome of the investigation, this affair has highlighted a culture of secrecy and cover-up that for too long has been allowed to fester.
It is time for a return to a more open and transparent approach to politics in Scotland to help rebuild public trust and confidence.